So far, two notable amnesty offers have been issued since Nigeria fully embraced democracy in 1999.
Granting of amnesty, is it appropriate and how relevant or necessary is it in the situation we found ourselves.
Before Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua was elected as the president, a part of the country was engulfed in arms struggle as Militant youths under the auspices of the Movement for the emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) frequently attacked the oil pipe-lines along the creeks, set ablaze oil wells, hijacked oil ships and openly kidnapped oil workers both locals and foreigners. This took a new dimension when the country oil revenue pulmated thereby affecting revenue of the country. At the time, the good advice of the lnspector General of police, Mr. Mike Okiro who suggested the need for an amnesty for the militants which was later accepted and implemented successfully. This particular militants amnesty has been sustained and the country has enjoyed the fruit of the amnesty since then. To a large extent, one can easily beat his chest that the amnesty programme extended to the Niger Delta militants who in the first instance can be said to have a “ genuine case” at hand . Truely, their God given oil wealth was been drilled for the development of the entire country without taking into cognizance their plight and welfare. While the larger country benefitted from the oil from their land, their water was polluted, their soil was conterminated thereby preventing them from farming and fishing. Road construction was hellish and more so there was no federal government infrastructural presence in the area. So, in one breath, one can say that their acceptance of the Yar’ardua amnesty was a commendable step. This writer was with Sir Mike Okiro when he flew into River state with a presidential plane to execute the first phase of the amnesty programme where hundreds of the militants freely and willingly surrendered their fire arms and other sophisticated dangerous weapons. As Militant leaders cross checked and signed the amnesty agreement document, l saw genuineness and willing efforts. Although a new group the Avengers that felt marginalised along the way tried to destabilised the process but for the notable advice of elderstaemen in the region. Many years along the way, the country again walked into another arms battle that could have been avoided. This time, it is the Boko Haram sect formed by Mohammed Yusuf. After over 10 years of tense arms struggle that had led to the devastation of many local governments in the north east plus the untimely death of innocent civilians, military personnels, police officers, security service men all in their thousands. It looks belated to hear president Muhammadu Buhari offering amnesty to members of the Boko Haram, without differentiating which of the groups the offer is meant for. After the abduction of the Chibok girls, there existed a power tussle over the ransom money collected after the negotiation for the release of some of the Chibok girls. The power tussle was between Abubakar Shekau who was the second in command to Mohammed Yusuf and Abu Mus’ab Habeeb Bin Muhammed Bin Yusuf al- who is the former ISIS-backed leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the levant’s (ISIL)branch in West Africa,formerly known as Boko Haram. He was the spokesperson for Boko Haram before it pledged allegiance to ISIL. This new group is believed to had masterminded the recent abduction in Dapchi. So, the presidential amnesty offer needs to be well evaluated to see if there is need for it and whether there is any merit for such offer.
Before amnesty is extended to armed radicals, militants or terrorists, many sides of the coin are carefully studied. In the case of MEND , l vividly remembered how Sir Okiro sneaked some leaders of the militants into Abuja for a dialogue and eventual agreement which was tabled before the president that made him change his mind for a military option. This worked. Before the recent Buhari amnesty offer to members of Boko Haram terrorists, his Chief of Army staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Bruatai had already offered a platform to pardon any of them them that willingly surrender their arms. They did not twisted mind and disobedience.heed that call. Which clearly shows that the spirit of terrorism is controlling them. Which is the spirit of the anti- christ, wickedness, disobedience and lawlessness.
So, one therefore wonders which Boko Haram is Buhari offering amnesty to. Could it be that of Shekau faction or Abu Mus’ab.
Just like the Niger Delta militants, each break away group tries to carry out the same operation they had handled under their former leader. The problem here is that ,the federal government now has two prone faces of Boko Haram to deal with. If the amnesty olive branch extended to the entire Boko Haram members is anything to go by, then it means Nigeria is offering this amnesty from a position of weakness instead of position of strength . If indeed Nigeria is offering this amnesty from a position of strength, there would be a time frame attached to the offer. This is why one is wondering from what position is Nigeria offering the amnesty to Boko Haram, after all the minister for lnfirmation once announced that the sect have been “ technically” defeated, so one had expected the President to offer the amnesty from a position of strength. More surprising is the fact that ,while the Army Chief of staff was talking tough and ordering his men to either capture Shekau “dead or alive”, the President seems to be talking from a position of weakness. Terrorists fear tough hands and tough talking Generals. Same with tough talking Commander in Chief, who would not be talking from a position of weakness but of strength These are men with twisted mind whose only focus is what they have set out to achieve. l have severally made the point that the fleeing defeated Boko Haram members are the same armed herdsmen perpetrating all these mayhem around the country. It is just a change of their nomenclature. Terrorists are hard nuts to crack and that is why experts frown at any move at offering them amnesty. Notable terrorist groups operating in the world usually don’t easily accept amnesty which they see as poisoned food. When al-Shabaab terrorist group were offered amnesty by the Somalian government, it turned out that those freed reconnected to their group and later unleashed devastating operation in the country. The American government under Barrack Obama only extended amnesty as a means of exchange for the captured US military officer by the Afghan militants. Negotiation with terrorists does not sound well in the ears because it is always a bitter pill.
How would a man whose wife and four kids were mercilessly murdered over a cause he knows nothing about, and his wife’s pregnancy was slashed open and the unborn baby thrown into the bush right before his face feel? Such pathetic stories litters every corner of Borno and Yobe states and the same perpetrators are being offered pardon and granted freedom to live and be rehabilitated and integrated into the same society they debased.
Questions abound as to why has it been difficult for the President to describe and address them as “ Terrorists” which they are. These are the ones, the President of Nigeria is pleading and begging to drop their guns and embrace peace .
It’s ironical that despite the negotiation for the release of both the Chibok girls and the Dapchi girls, these heartless terrorists did not keep to the agreement to release all the girls but held back some of them.
Are these the type of character the president wants to extend amnesty to?